Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle

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Rouget de Lisle in 1792.

Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, sometimes spelled de l'Isle (10 May 1760 – 26 June 1836), was a French army officer of the French Revolutionary Wars. He is known for writing the words and music of the Chant de guerre pour l'armée du Rhin in 1792, which would later be known as La Marseillaise and become the French national anthem.

Early life[edit]

De Lisle was born at Lons-le-Saunier, reputedly on a market day. His parents lived in the neighbouring village of Montaigu.[1] A plaque was placed at the precise spot of his birth and a statue erected in the town's centre in 1882. He was the eldest son of Claude Ignace Rouget (5 April 1735 - 6 August 1792) at Orgelet and Jeanne Madeleine Gaillande (2 July 1734 - 20 March 1811).[2]


Rouget de Lisle chantant la Marseillaise, by Isidore Pils (1813-1875) (Musée historique de Strasbourg)

He enlisted into the army as an engineer and attained the rank of captain. The song that has immortalised him, La Marseillaise, was composed at Strasbourg, where Rouget de Lisle was quartered in April 1792. He wrote the words in a fit of patriotic excitement after a public dinner. The piece was at first called Chant de guerre pour l'armée du Rhin ("War Song for the Army of the Rhine") and only received its name of Marseillaise from its adoption by the Provençal volunteers whom Barbaroux introduced into Paris and who were prominent in the storming of the Tuileries Palace on 10 August 1792. Rouget de Lisle was a royalist and was cashiered and thrown into prison in 1793, narrowly escaping the guillotine. He was freed during the Thermidorian Reaction.

Rouget de Lisle wrote a few other songs of the same kind as the Marseillaise and in 1825 he published Chants français (French Songs) in which he set to music fifty songs by various authors. His Essais en vers et en prose (Essays in Verse and Prose, 1797) contains the Marseillaise; a prose tale Adelaide et Monville of the sentimental kind; and some occasional poems.


Rouget de Lisle died in poverty in Choisy-le-Roi, Seine-et-Oise.[3] His ashes were transferred from Choisy-le-Roi cemetery to the Invalides on 14 July 1915, during World War I.[3][4][5]


  1. ^ Lons, une "petite" ville en lettres capitales at La Terre de chez nous (in French) 10 April 2004. Retrieved 7 August 2013
  2. ^ Family Tree Rouget
  3. ^ a b Norman Davies, Europe: A history p. 718
  4. ^ The Marsellaise. Honouring its author Hawera & Normanby Star 26 October 1915, at National Library of New Zealand
  5. ^ Tribute to Composer The Argus (Australia), 16 July 1915, p.7, at Trove

Further reading[edit]